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Goddard Rockets

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On March 16, 1926 the first liquid-fueled rocket was launched into the air in Auburn, Massachusetts. It flew at the speed of sixty miles per hour to reach a height of forty-one feet. The inventor, Robert H. Goddard, stared in amazement. The next day, Goddard wrote in his diary: March 17-The first flight with a rocket using liquid propellants was made yesterday at Aunt Effie's farm in AuburnIt looked almost magical as it rose, without any appreciably greater noise or flame, as if it said, 'I've been here long enough; I think I'll be going somewhere else, if you don't mind.'Some of the surprising things were the absence of smoke, the lack of very loud roar, and the smallness of the flame.

To ignite the rocket Goddard used matches and gunpowder, while his assistant stood by with a blow torch on a pole. However, lighting the fuse didn't immediately set it off. Goddard then used a pump connected to the rocket to pump the gas and oxygen into the combustion chamber where the fuse was still lit. The total flight time was only two and a half seconds, but Goddard found his rocket one hundred and eighty-four feet away from the launch site with the lower half of the nozzle burnt off.

Robert H. Goddard was born October 5th, 1882 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He grew up an only child and was fascinated with kites and balloons. At age sixteen he tried to construct a balloon out of aluminum. This failed miserably, but didn't stop him.

Instead, he became interested in space after reading The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. On October 19th, 1899, Goddard wrote, How wonderful it would be to make a device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars, and how it would look, on a small scale, sent up from the meadow at my feet. From then on, Goddard looked upon that day as the first inspiration for building rockets. This turned out to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.

Due to health issues Goddard became an eighteen year-old sophomore. Despite this, he was successful in his studies, and became the valedictorian of his graduating class in 1904. While giving his speech, he said, It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow. In 1909, Goddard came up with the idea of liquid-fueled rockets for space travel. Because of this he was publicly ridiculed for many years. Fortunately, he ignored the laughing, set out to fulfill his idea, and achieved. After Goddard's first rocket was complete, he spent the rest of his life building bigger and better rockets ultimately hoping that one would leave earth's atmosphere. Because of this, he is now known as the father of modern rocketry. Currently, humans use Goddard's technology a lot.

Right now, all rockets that travel into space run off liquid fuel. Due to this, we can give a lot of the credit for space exploration to Goddard. The first manned rocket was successfully launched into space in 1961, eighteen years after Goddard died. Also in 1961, the Apollo program was started by NASA in a goal to reach the moon. Finally, on July 20, 1969, after ten previous attempts, and eight years, the spacecraft Apollo eleven, reached the desired destination. Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin stepped onto the moon. Between Apollo eleven's successful flight and 1972, Apollo twelve, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen successfully reached the moon. As it is so famously depicted in the movie, Apollo 13, this rocket did not, due to a leak in the oxygen tank. The next space-bounded rocket that NASA is constructing will be launched in 2019. Maybe that rocket will truly reach Mars, just as Goddard had dreamed.

In the process of making his first rocket, Goddard saw a problem. The extreme heat that was made in the combustion chamber as the rocket took off melted part of the nozzle. Realizing that this could cause substantial problems, Goddard developed an important technique that is still used today. He used the liquid oxygen, which is naturally very cold, to cool the combustion chamber. This was done by wrapping the liquid oxygen pipe around the nozzle, before the oxygen was released into the combustion chamber. This simple, but genius idea changed how rockets fly today.

During WWI, before completing his first successful rocket, Goddard designed and built several rockets for the military. Although, none of these were successful, similar rockets were later constructed in WWII as weapons to destroy tanks. These were known as rocket propelled grenades, or more commonly known as bazookas, and were widely distributed among the United States, German, and Soviet Union troops. Even today rocket propelled grenades are used in warfare to meet a variety of different purposes. The HEAT, or the most modern rocket propelled grenade, can penetrate through the armor of the most highly developed and modern tanks. Also, specialized bazookas are made to release tear gas, smoke, and white phosphorous.

Robert H. Goddard died on August 10, 1945. Although, his life only lasted 63 years, his ideas, and invention have lasted many years already, and will be built upon for many more years. Starting with a small rocket, and without much support, Goddard inspired a weapon that has killed thousands of people, but began a dream of ultimate exploration that has progressed throughout the years. Near the end of Goddard's life he said, Just remember when you think all is lost, the future remains.His main goal in life was to impact the future, and he succeeded.

More about this author: Luke Dearden

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